This is Meghan Murphy defending radical feminism on Al Jazeera:
She runs Feminist Current, which takes a hard line on just about everything. Representative content: I chose radical feminism over my porn-using boyfriend and got my humanity back.
I blame a society that teaches women to tolerate all kinds of bullshit from men. We are taught to prioritize and strive for heterosexual love so much that the bar for men is almost at the floor. Many women dislike porn, but resignedly accept that their boyfriends use it. It is an embarrassing topic, discussed only in low voices, if at all, and only with one’s most trusted friends, lest an acquaintance write you off as prudish.
But porn is an insidious epidemic. The internet has made it easier to access and, correspondingly, more normalized than ever before. Discovering violent material on an older male’s computer (a brother or father, for example) is essentially considered a rite of passage now for pre-teen and teenage boys. It has become a common theme in comedies. After my aforementioned breakup, someone even said to me, “I don’t think you’re going to find any guy out there who doesn’t use it.”
Well, if all of the men I meet in the future believe they need porn to be satisfied, then to hell with them. Nobody is born with a penchant or need for porn — nope, not even males. It is neither natural nor healthy to find degradation arousing. These should not be controversial statements.
But a lot of people simply don’t question that. Challenging normalized injustices is scary and onerous. Once you realize there is a problem, you cannot snap your fingers and un-see it. We who challenge porn specifically challenge a core tenet of male supremacy: If males couldn’t subjugate females, what “opposite” class of people would they subjugate? Who could they control, objectify, and use? Is the answer “nobody”? Can we even imagine such a world? Sadly, it seems most of us can’t. Male-partnered women are, understandably, afraid of seeing their boyfriends and husbands as compliant in a system of abuse.
Social movements are a great source of stress and a surefire way to have less fun. If I had never read the works of Andrea Dworkin, Gail Dines, and other anti-pornography radical feminists, I might be happily married right now. But given the chance, I wouldn’t change a thing. I lost somebody I loved, but I gained something far more important.
Radical feminism gave me my humanity back.
The message this sends to me, as a man, is that I should listen to my better nature and abstain from porn entirely. I’d better shape up, especially if I want to date a feminist. One of those situations where a relationship would make you grow and all of those cliches.
When Meghan Murphy writes about her own personal life, it’s a different story:
I could be tougher, I guess. I don’t know. The actual truth, though, is that I’m not always great on the man-front. I fall in love too easily; often with men I should maybe not fall in love with… My heart is soft and mushy like an old piece of fruit. I like to fuck and sometimes I accidentally fall in love with the people I think I’m Just Fucking. I make out with dudes in bars. My friends have to watch. I fall off the face of the earth when I fall in love and forget to write and work and do my laundry and eat food and take my vitamins.
Sometimes I want to give up feminism just so that I can stop feeling guilty about being myself. But that feels pretty lazy and self-absorbed so no. Also, I actually kind of like myself. And I kind of feel like, if I can be myself and I can say it out loud, some other women out there will feel like they can be themselves too — and tell the truth about it — while continuing to fight back as best they can, in whatever ways they can…
So I don’t think our fight is to create some kind of protective shell or some kind of illusion. I don’t think my fight is to pretend to be tough and strong and cold and hard. I don’t think I am particularly tough or strong or cold or hard. I fall in love with men who hurt me, over and over again. I want to be loved like everyone else; but loved as myself. I feel like giving up because it’s just too fucking hard and it hurts too much, but I never really do. Loving men can be painful and embarrassing and irrational and traumatic. But it can also feel like magic. A particular kind of magic that feels a lot like nausea, sure, but magic nonetheless. And I can’t tell you how to cope with that reality or how to resolve it because clearly I haven’t a clue.
Wait…what? She has a lot to say about third wave feminism and trans ideology, but now she’s resorting to “I’m just being myself?” Really?
Loving and losing is extremely painful, but what bothers me about this passage is the “over and over again.” She isn’t trying to learn from the experiences.
She references an earlier piece, which is all about her sins against feminism.
I too, have often felt not only like an imperfect feminist, but a terrible one. I feel like I’m never doing enough. I feel like I’ve backtracked on issues and ideas that are important to me when in conversation with a man I’m romantically interested in. Like Gay, I never stopped listening to (and loving) raunchy and sometimes sexist hip hop (though I really hate it when rap music is singled out as being, somehow, the misogynist music genre. That isn’t to say we should give it a pass, either…). I kind of love makeup and yes, I shave my legs too.
But those things bother me less and less. I don’t feel obligated to confess every imperfection I have or every way in which I’ve failed to look like some feminist caricature. I don’t think my eyeliner is really a very big deal in the grand scheme of things. I don’t think feminism really cares all that much whether or not I shave my legs. I think there are more important issues at hand.
Not supporting a racist, sexist minstrel show would be nice.
More importantly, why does she get to keep her shitty rap music, but everybody else has to stop looking at porn? How is porn harmful and misogynist rap isn’t just as bad or worse?
One thing I do think is under-appreciated by radfem porn critics (speaking of heterosexual porn) is that there’s variation in the amount of overt mistreatment and apparent enjoyment. That’s true within and across clips. The events depicted may have the superficial appearance of “sex positivity”…until the guy starts fucking all stupid or saying dumb shit, or the guy behind the camera starts talking, or whatever. You can, like, skip around in the video and ignore those parts in bad faith while you fill the void in your life left by nobody ever touching you and close your laptop and leave this sordid event behind you, in the hopes of one day attaining actual human companionship.
I’m an autistic vegan mulatto with special interests in tai chi and psychotherapy. That basically makes me a pussy, despite adequate performance on other man fronts.
I’d fair better in a kinder, gentler world where I’m allowed to be myself and I don’t have to perform emotional retardation as a precondition of somebody touching me ever.
The hegemony of the patriarchy being what it is, and people’s learned relationship dysfunction being what it is, I have to change the standards of attractiveness themselves in order to have hope.
This is too casual for me:
I can’t be together all the time. Like many women, I have self-esteem issues. There are days I hate my body. I can be totally superficial and I have a deep fear of wrinkles. I straighten my hair. I’ve made some really bad choices in the man-game and I spend too much time playing that game… I can’t count the number of times I’ve chosen the asshole over the ‘good guy’. I could go on, confessing the many issues and imperfections I have, patriarchy-related or not (though I tend to think it’s all patriarchy-related, in one way or another) but is that really useful?
I have a problem with this, and she acknowledges the reason in the later article:
The flip side of this is that men are taught to feel nothing, to express nothing, to be cold and stoic at all costs. And so when they do express emotions other than anger or callousness, when they feel and express pain or hurt or sadness or vulnerability, they are called “bitches” or “faggots” or “pussies.” The message is two-fold: 1) Whatever you do, don’t be “like a woman,” and 2) Whatever you do, don’t tell the truth. Because you will be punished for it.
Ultimately, feminism is about getting men to change their behavior. You have to meet people where they are. Even conditioning a pigeon involves “shaping,” where you start out by rewarding approximations of the correct behavior. This is telling men that they’re supposed to role-play white knights, get shit for it from men AND women, and then watch the radical feminist fuck an asshole in the end?
If I want to date Meghan Murphy, empathizing with her emotional and intellectual life is not the way. The way is to feed her alcohol while she’s lonely and be a Real Man.
I can’t deal with bars, alcohol, or the social subtleties required to make out with someone I just met.
You know who else points out the stupidity of listening to feminists, in terms of getting a girlfriend and stuff? Men’s rights activists and pickup artists and incels and all the sworn enemies of feminism. Meghan Murphy makes them right and that matters.
Meghan Murphy is not a trustworthy ally. I’m making an objection about process here, not saying that I’m personally entitled to anything. It’s not apparent, from what she’s written, that she’s even trying reward not-assholes. She says many sensible things about acknowledging material reality. It’s a material reality that sex is a reinforcer, and that “Just Fucking” promotes all the attachment security nightmares that are ruining everybody’s lives.
The whole point is to make active decisions about what the culture should be, and then act like that’s what the culture already is.
Are there straight feminists?
One of Meghan Murphy’s axes to grind is that trans women aren’t women, there are no female penises, etc. I agree. What’s disingenuous about her position is that, through her mixed signals, she’s actually making it seem like declaring oneself a lesbian might be more viable as a dating strategy than simply being a man who accepts the premises of feminism. She’s, like, this shunned TERF minority, and trans is the new hotness.
So there is something to the concern about straight men invading women’s spaces, trying to guilt lesbians into having sex with them, etc. I can see why that would be a rational social strategy. Certainly random guys she’s making out with in bars aren’t impressing her with their special interest in gender studies. Or is that a thing that happens in bars? You talk about Andrea Dworkin and then have sex in the opposite of the way she suggested? Fuck, normal people are confusing.
It’s at this point that men conclude, “Wait…those feminists really just think I suck and advocate for a world in which I die alone. I hate them!”
Which group of men is a more natural ally of feminism: the ones that are winning at patriarchy or the ones that are losing?